Jan 072015

The Russ Belville Show #518 420RADIO News – Oklahoma Republicans Oppose Suing Colorado [2015-01-07 Wed]

Seven Oklahoma Republicans have come out in opposition to the state’s lawsuit against Colorado for legalizing marijuana.  In a Wednesday letter to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R), who along with the Nebraska attorney general filed suit in December against Colorado, the group of Republicans argue the suit poses a risk to state’s 10th amendment rights.  In the suit, Pruitt said Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana injured the ability of Oklahoma and other bordering states to enforce their marijuana laws and violates the supremacy clause of the Constitution giving federal law precedence over state ones.  But the group of Republicans thinks if the lawsuit was successful at the Supreme Court, it could “undermine all of those efforts to protect our own state’s right to govern itself.”  Gun control advocates in New York, for instance, could argue that Virginia’s lax gun laws injure their ability to regulate firearms.

Illinois is now accepting petitions to expand the list of medical conditions that qualify for treatment with marijuana — though officials have yet to name the board that will decide the issue.  The state also hasn’t named which applicants will be awarded licenses to grow and sell medical pot, which officials had planned to do before the end of 2014.  Despite the delays, the state is accepting petitions through Feb. 28 to add new qualifying medical conditions. Petitions are online at the Illinois Department of Public Health website.  The law lists about three dozen conditions that can qualify someone to apply to use marijuana legally, including cancer, glaucoma and rheumatoid arthritis.  Each petition may nominate only one condition, and it must be specific, according to state requirements.  The most likely condition to be added, advocates say, is post-traumatic stress disorder, which could help veterans. A more controversial addition would be for chronic or severe pain.

Shortages that plagued the start of Washington State’s legal marijuana market have eased, sending prices in recreational-pot stores down as much as 40 percent.  Seattle’s first pot shop, Cannabis City, ran out of marijuana in three days when it opened in July. Since then, the state has licensed more growers, processors and retailers, increasing supply and reducing prices to an average of $15 a gram, said Randy Simmons, deputy director of the Washington State Liquor Control Board. Prices were as much as $25 a gram in July, including taxes.  Even after the decline, that’s still 50 percent more than the $10 a gram available on the black market, board officials said in an interview yesterday at Bloomberg’s offices in Seattle.  Challenges remain in the state’s attempt to supplant illegal sellers. An effective tax rate of 44 percent on recreational pot is keeping many buyers in the still-unregulated market for medical marijuana.

In a new brief published by the Cato Institute called “High on Life? Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicide,” researchers report that the passage of a state medical marijuana law “is associated with an almost 5 percent reduction in the total suicide rate.”  Researchers D. Mark Anderson, Daniel I. Rees, and Joseph J. Sabia “conclude that the legalization of medical marijuana leads to fewer suicides among young adult males.”  Building on 2012 research, Anderson, Rees, and Sabia analyzed Centers for Disease Control data from 1990 through 2007.  “When we examine the relationship between legalization and suicides by gender and age, we find evidence that MMLs are associated with decreased suicides among 20- through 29-year-old males and among 30- through 39-year-old males.  This result is consistent with registry data from Arizona, Colorado, and Montana showing that most medical marijuana patients are male, and that roughly half are under the age of 40.”

Under Uruguay’s new marijuana legalization, cannabis users here can either grow weed at home or can join a cannabis “club,” paying fees to be part of a collective that grows and harvests pot. As a result, legal cannabis cultivation is thriving here.  In December, Julio Calzada, the head of the National Drug Commission announced that the government had registered 1,200 cannabis growers, and about 500 clubs, progress he said that was “encouraging.”  But a year into the new system, it’s still impossible to buy marijuana legally. To date, the Uruguayan government still hasn’t chosen the companies that will grow its cannabis.  The price of street marijuana, however, has been in decline since the new law passed, because local growers have stepped in to meet demand and because pot users can now grow their own weed with impunity.  As such, Uruguay is meeting one of its primary goals: hitting drug cartels where it hurts.